I am happy to inform you that the Institute has launched a Diploma in Microfinance in association with Sa-Dhan, an association of Community Development Financial Institutions. This two paper diploma will serve as a professional qualification for those who are working in the sector as also for youngsters who are seeking to make a career in Microfinance. The Diploma was launched by Shri. Pawan Kumar Bansal, Hon'ble Minster of State for Finance on 2nd April 2008, during the annual policy conference organized by Sa-Dhan. I am sure that banking professionals will also find the diploma a value addition. I will be happy, on a personal note; if this initiative of the Institute will give a fillip to the all round efforts on making financial inclusion happen.
The Institute has also announced the launch of (1) Diploma in Home Loan Advising, a two paper examination, leading to the award of Certified Independent Mortgage Professional (2) Diploma in Commodity Derivatives, (3) Advanced Diploma in Urban Cooperative Banking, (4) Certificate exam in Credit Card for banking and Finance executives, and (5) Certificate examination in Quantitative Techniques for Bankers. All these initiatives have been taken after dialogue with the banking and finance professionals and to meet the felt need on education. Each one of these courses is backed by courseware prepared and published by the Institute. The list of books published by the Institute has been placed on our website.
The first examination under these courses will be held in December 2008. With these the Institute now offers Eight (8) diploma courses and Five (5) certificate exams for banking and finance professionals. In addition the Institute offers courses to IT/BPO companies and some customized certifications. I hope that all of you will encourage these initiatives
Of late two issues have been, regularly hitting the news headlines in respect of banking sector. One is the issue of sub-prime and alleged miss-selling of exotic financial products by some banks. This issue underscores the need for financial literacy. To a certain extent the "Learning Vault" introduced by the Institute in its portal facilitates financial literacy. This may not be sufficient. The Institute will therefore carry a regular section of FAQs on financial products in its future issue of its journals/magazines. At the same time, as persons managing treasury departments have taken the plea of not understanding the structured products there is a case for them to take up some of the diploma courses offered by the Institute. The other issue is that of questionable methods adopted by recovery agents in collecting dues on behalf of banks. Complaints about the behaviour of DRAs could be contained if DRAs are adequately trained about their roles and responsibilities, courtesy, code and not to violate the private space of the borrower. At the same time the customer should also learn to respect the normal recovery efforts of the banks. Thus, as a measure of well calibrated efforts to assuage the feeling of borrowers and to put in a system of proper education and certification of the recovery agents, Reserve Bank of India has recently announced that the Institute will develop appropriate content for educating and also take up the task of certifying the Recovery Agents. In fact RBI has stipulated that the certification by the Institute is mandatory for every collection/recovery agent. In due course, it is hoped that similar certification will be essential for selling bank products. The Institute has already conducted training porgramme for the trainers who will undertake the 100 hours training for the DRA. It will also supervise the conduct of 100 hour training, intensely by its own mentors across the country. Already 35 institutions have been accredited by the Institute to take up the 100 hour training. More accreditations will happen. The Institute has also prepared the courseware for the training and examination. The training will be a mix of banking and behavioural skills. The examination will be in the offline mode and will be held in about 30 centers to start with. It is hoped that the first examination will take place before the end of May 2008.
The need to continuously improve the content of Associate examination is always of paramount importance for the Institute. We have taken the following steps in preparing for the examinations to be held in May 2008.
JAIIB- Reduction in On-line Centers: There have been, in the recent past, disruptions in the conduct of on-line examinations due to certain load related technical issues. Pending a long term solution for the issue the Institute has decided that the number of on-line centres for JAIIB will be reduced to 25 for the May 2008 and December 2008 exams. In view of this, in respect of centres which were previously on-line but now moved to off line mode, candidates who took the previous exam on-line will have to now take the exam in off-line mode. The Institute has already individually addressed letters to the candidates about the change in the mode of exam and is also issuing fresh hall tickets to these candidates indicating the off -line centres. The officials of the Institute will also follow up with the candidates to ascertain if the hall tickets have been received. As a measure of precaution may I request all such candidates to take note of the change and take up issue with the zonal office of IIBF, if they have not received the off-line hall ticket well in time?
JAIIB- Updated Courseware: The Institute has launched the Diploma in Banking & Finance, an entry point qualification equivalent to JAIIB for graduates and students pursuing the final year of their graduate course. The syllabus for the exam is the same as that of JAIIB. The Institute has prepared updated courseware for the Diploma. The courseware will be published by McMillan shortly in the form of three books as courseware for the Diploma and also JAIIB. The updated books will apply to JAIIB from December 2008 examinations onwards.
Virtual/Contact classes: The Institute will be offering more contact classes for the current examination. In order that the classes are of a given standard the Institute has just completed Train the Trainers (TTPs) in its Zonal Offices for the faculty who assist the Institute in the conduct of the contact classes. The Manipal- IIBF collaboration in offering virtual classes continues this half year also. I am sure that all of you will take full advantage of the educational support services and prepare well while taking the examinations.
There are a few more initiatives that the Institute will be flagging off this year. The first one is that Kolkata, Delhi and Chennai zonal offices will, before the end of May 2008, move to more customer friendly premises. Very soon the Institute will have its own testing centers in these places. Let me keep the remaining news for the next dialogue.